The Edmonton Oilers have a GM. His name is Peter Chiarelli.
Though you can be forgiven for not knowing that, given how often it seems like it’s the Edmonton media that’s driving the decisions for the Oilers. Not only that, but no matter how poorly the team does, or how badly the decisions turn out, it’s never management’s fault.
Is it that Edmonton’s hockey media is out of touch? No, it’s the players who are to blame.*
And so here we are. As the Edmonton Oilers careen toward another disastrous season, Edmonton’s blamestream media is looking for new targets.
Having already run Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle, among a host of others, out of town, Edmonton’s hockey men have set their sights on Connor McDavid and Oskar Klefbom as their newest targets for criticism. God forbid they lay any blame at the people making the decisions. You know, like the actual GM that has frittered away much of his lottery winnings and appears determined on being broke again within five years.
But hey, who am I to criticize Chiarelli and his roster building skills, right? I mean, he’s an NHL GM and I’m just a keyboard warrior spilling pixels on the Internet.
That, of course, has never stopped the Edmonton media from making the roster decisions for the Oilers, though. But hey, I’m certainly no professional hockey writer, either. You can tell because I wouldn’t be able to come up with a segue like this if I banged on my keyboard for 1,000 years:
you can tell this is a professional writer because of segues like this pic.twitter.com/T3hFjIfvx0
— nobody (@petbugs13) December 1, 2017
I dare say, this is definitely an interesting twist on the Moneyball anecdote about the baseball scouts taking into account the attractiveness of a prospect’s girlfriend. Looks like hockey scouts are going to have to start documenting the occupation of hockey players’ parents.
But I hope I don’t get in trouble for that tweet. Because if there’s one thing Edmonton’s hockey media can’t abide, it’s any kind of pushback:
As a group, the Edmonton hockey men are some of the most vocal on twitter when it comes to taking on those pesky bloggers. If only they were so willing to take on the decisions made by Oilers management over the years. Instead, they continuously carry water for the team, and typically single out the more skilled players, while giving the “character” guys a free pass.
This was never more apparent than in the last two weeks. First Tim Pannacio dropped this quote from Jordan Eberle talking about how his treatment at the hands of the Edmonton media affected his confidence:
Now, I happen to think that as a professional, you need to put those kinds of things behind you and just go out there and play hockey. The confidence will be fine when you start getting a few bounces and pucks start going in the net. So while I don’t necessarily put as much weight on the actual impact of media comments on players’ on-ice performance, I do think the coverage has a rhetorical effect on both fans and the front office. Eventually, those repeated hot takes about players’ compete levels, or character, or leadership, or knowing how to win, start to become ingrained as reality.
Heck, even the media members themselves like to pretend they’re in charge:
If I am a GM and I have a player whose game is ruined because of a few articles – none of which come remotely close to being as critical as what those same writers face here on Twitter — I move him.
Can't win with those players. Mentally weak.
— Mark Spector (@SportsnetSpec) November 25, 2017
But whether you agree with this or not, one thing is definitely clear. Whether it’s bloggers, Twitter users, or even professional hockey players, Edmonton’s hockey media sure can dish it out, but they can’t take it:
Talk about mentally weak.
I mean, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that there would be so many precious snowflakes in Edmonton at this time of year:
Anyway, despite the lengths these guys will go to blame a select few players in an effort to absolve the GM of any guilt for the Oilers’ troubles, they will go to the same, or even more extreme lengths, to protect certain other players for the same reason. And just to drive a point home, less than a week after the Eberle uproar, Kris Russell scored on his own net and all hell broke loose as keyboard warriors climbed over themselves for a chance to defend his honour against the hordes of “analytics nerds” raking him over the coals for it.
The strange thing was, other than a little ha-ha finger pointing from opposing fans, there was very little criticism of Russell for that specific play:
The irony is that the "analytics nerds" laughed about the own goal for like an hour and then moved on, while the Kris Russell White Knights won't shut the hell up about it days later. https://t.co/SI5HMl1056
— Adam Herman (@AdamZHerman) December 2, 2017
Sure, there’s been plenty of criticism of Russell for his overall play and of Chiarelli, ironically for trading away Eberle at cents on the dollar just so that he could sign Russell over the summer. But none of it was for scoring on his own net. Heck, if anything, “analytics nerds” discount goals and focus on shot-based metrics for this very reason! Bad bounces happen, and you shouldn’t base any decisions solely on random or rare occurrences.
Oh well, at least we all had a good laugh. And maybe I had this all wrong. The more I think about it, the more I realize that the Edmonton media aren’t playing at GM. No, they’re playing at something much more noble. They’re out there saving the boys-on-the-bus’ bacon every day, driving the dusty streets out of little Edmonton, Alta.:
* does not apply to Kris Russell